PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century
Julie Ann Shotsberger
F21 Class of 2006 Statement
What are the current challenges you are facing in your professional life?
The majority of the mathematics classes I teach are developmental. These are the students who, for a variety of reasons, must begin to learn math from the very basic operations to completing a college level course. This could take two to two and one-half years to accomplish. Keeping my students motivated and persuading them that they actually can realize this is a huge challenge. They all enter with their own prejudices about learning mathematics. Creating a learning environment that will foster positive attitudes about mathematics is fundamental for the success of these students. Varying teaching methods, assessment tools and establishing an open and accepting classroom are key elements.
In the About PKAL statement I read that "...strengthening programs in mathematics and various fields of science must be a national priority. Our country must meet the challenge of preparing well-equipped citizens, K-12 teachers..." which really speaks to my professional goals. I desire my students to understand mathematics and have the skills to use what they have learned in real-world settings. Also, properly preparing our future teachers is a priority to the future success of our students. That’s where it all begins.
What do you view as your most promising options and opportunities for the future?
Efforts to share and model successful pedagogy can support a positive change in attitude and academic achievement. We have a conference at Oakton each fall which is an excellent means for learning and sharing classroom strategies to improve tools for assessment, create interactive classroom environments and connect mathematics to the real-world. The expansion and continued development of this conference will create an excellent growth opportunity. Workshops offered within each department or division with the goal of specific idea sharing between colleagues is, also, a means to foster growth. Tracking and mentoring the developmental students to retain and, ultimately, complete their many required courses is essential.
The state of Illinois has instituted and revised a basic skills exam for prospective elementary educators. Continued revision and higher standards are needed to improve teacher preparedness to benefit our future students.